Every year we have a good crop of beets even though we don’t plant many. For some reason they grow and grow. We store the beets and other root vegetables in our cellar which is essentially an area under the house that was dug out and filled (sort of ) with concrete in some places. In other places, there is just dirt. But it works.
Here’s what it looks like:
The partitions were put in many years ago by Ernie and his dad.
As usual, we left the beets until now and they got squishy. This happens when the air around the beets (and potatoes, carrots etc) is taking the moisture out of the vegetable because it is too dry. We did put the beets in pails with newspaper, which works not bad to keep the ones that are lower down from getting soft, but were still left with many soggy beets.
What To Do With Soggy Beets?
First, here are a couple of things we can do to make beets last longer in storage.
Keeping them at the appropriate temperature is crucial. Also AS important for good beets is being at the correct humidity. Being at the right temperature is something that most people will realize right away. Obviously, root vegetables have to be kept very cool. But lack of humidity is what causes root vegetables to get soft. The air around them is too dry and sucks the moisture out of them.
The beets need to be between 3 and 7 degrees C and the air to have high humidity like 95%.
It is difficult to keep the humidity high in an open basic vegetable storage area, such as our cellar. You could use a humidifier, but that could be time consuming and you are continuously using power to keep it running which when it comes to beets, is likely not worth it.
If you have some containers without air holes you can put the beets in, interspersed with crumpled up newspaper for air circulation. Occasionally mist the top of the beets to add moisture but be careful not to use too much or it could cause rot on the surface of the beet. In containers with air holes you won’t need to put newspaper as much if at all but misting is still a good idea, especially on the top. Don’t get the beets moist near the bottom or again they could rot.
We now use 5 gallon pails in a very cool room to store our beets. The beets are spaced out from the bottom of the pail to the top so that there is some air flow and so that the moisture that is misted can reach them easier. Beets at the bottom of the pails don’t get soggy as fast.
Remedy For Soggy Beets
For beets that have already gone soft you can soak them in water until they get plumped up again to a degree.
Uses For Soggy Beets
If you’re beets are really soggy and you want to get rid of them, you can make soup immediately, eat some and then freeze the rest for later. If you make beet pickles, make sure you soak them in water for a bit since most people prefer crisp pickle. It won’t always work perfectly but it’s better than throwing them out.
You can also dehydrate beets. I use a dehydrator on beets grated with a large sized cutting hole. If you use a fine grater, you could sun dry them or put them in a drying room on a screen.
We make beet soup or Borshch (traditional Ukrainian pronunciation) (it’s not “borsht” (anglicized pronunciation).
The process of making borshch is simple. Fry onions and garlic in fat (I used olive oil but you can use whatever you want), then add water, beets (I grated them with a large-holed grater we bought at a yard sale), dill, green beans, tomatoes and if you want carrots. I also put some garlic tops that I had frozen two years ago. After it is done cooing, you can add cream or not.
Beets are not a super versatile vegetable but are nice for a few things. Mainly, proper storage is what will prevent soggy beets. Otherwise, quick usage will help you save what you can of them.
We make our own ketchup. It was is easy to do I will never buy any again. The taste is excellent especially with homegrown fried potatoes.
Ingredients for homemade ketchup:
Tomatoes – grow your own
Vinegar – make your own
Onions or onion powder – grow or make your own
Sweetener – we use honey sourced locally
Salt – buy or make your own
Optional: A dash of cloves – I use it because I have some already but I wouldn’t go out and buy any especially for this. Ketchup can be made without it. Be careful how much you use though – it is very potent.
Cook the tomatoes well and press them through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins if you haven’t already removed them.
Into the tomatoes add sweetener – lots. Ketchup is very sweet so taste test often as you add this.
Add the salt and vinegar. These will be added in less amounts than the sweetener.
Add the onions or onion powder. We use small multiplier onions. We add them by grating them on a very fine grater directly into the ketchup. That way you get the full flavour of the onion, but not chunks of it. It blends in nicely.
Add the garlic powder to taste.
If you use cloves, add it last. Be SSSOOOO careful not to put too much. You only need a small DASH of it. I get heartburn from cloves in ketchup so if I put ANY it is the smallest pinch.
Add these ingredients to taste slowly. You won’t get the full flavour of the ketchup until it cools so this can be a long process.